Betsy Devine: Funny ha-ha and/or funny peculiar

Making trouble today for a better tomorrow…

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Entries Tagged as 'Metablogging'

Did it start with dialup for you?

October 7th, 2017 · No Comments

Oh those quaint old days of the 20th century! Do you remember them too?

Do you remember the soft creaky groaning of dialup, when you waited for that connection? Do you remember when Netscape Navigator added images to internet pages of text? Did you make your own animated GIF avatar for Compuserve forums? Do you remember why we called it the World Wide Wait?

In 1998 (or thereabouts), our family moved to the Netherlands for 3 months, because Frank had a Lorentz Professorship. About two days before takeoff, I figured out how to sign up for Hotmail, just in case it turned out to be useful. In those simple days, short email addresses were super easy to get.

When we moved to Cambridge, about 2000, I was very anxious to have good internet cables running up through a wall between Frank’s study and mine, so we could both work at our desks with computers online. I also proposed, as a bit of a lark, that we might try something new I had read about in MacWorld, something called wifi. Without much expectation, we bought a new wireless router, which affected our lives in ways we never imagined.

Now you could unplug your computer from your desk and use it in the kitchen to try a new recipe, or even out in the garden on beautiful day. And every time you looked, there was something new online that ysou wanted to try. There were blogs, and anybody could start one! And then Cameron Marlowe made a blog tool tracking which blogs were following certain news stories, and there was a big news story about GOP shenanigans that I wanted to see blogs linking to, so there was a reason for me to start a blog, so of course I did.

Then out of nowhere, there was a guy named Dave Winer at Harvard holding big meetings where amateur bloggers could even meet tech superstars. There was a “social software” from Google called Orkut, where you could ask techy acquaintances to “friend” you, a heady rush of pleasure when they said yes.

Then bloggers got RSS, and then I got a job working for Scott Johnson at Feedster, and then along came Bloggercon and Joi Ito’s chatroom and SXSW, even more connections that put real life and your computer together. Because there were always more web things to try. Things like del.icio.us made by a #joi chatroom friend Joshua Schachter, which we all had to try. Things like Second Life, where a 2003 Newsweek story about becoming a real life millionaire selling virtual stuff there motivated so many people to give it a try. I must confess that although I did make some real-life money in Second Life, it was never enough to cover the real-life money I spent, mostly on “rent” for beautiful places to put the wild buildings I also bought, but also on bubblegum pink hair and beautiful “textures” and other fun things.

So now, just a bit more than a decade later, I can visit foreign countries without learning the important local language sentence, “Where is the nearest internet cafe?” In fact, now I am writing this blogpost while riding an airplane from Shanghai to Boston. There is probably room for another blogpost to cover the time in between, but I want to finish this one before I run out of my airline wifi!

Tags: Go go go · Metablogging · Stories · Travel · Wide wonderful world

What hath Twitter wrought?

September 5th, 2013 · Comments Off on What hath Twitter wrought?

What hath Twitter wrought? by betsythedevine
What hath Twitter wrought?, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Last week, Frank Wilczek asked Twitter if anybody knew the name of a very odd object (we posted a video) seen at Susty’s Restaurant in Northwood, NH.

Richard Askew (@ricaskew) not only knew the answer to Frank’s question, he also knew where Frank could buy kinetic forks for himself!

@FrankWilczek Kinetic Fork
www.littlegorgeousthings.com/kifobasc.html

Yesterday, Frank’s new toys arrived in the mail and this morning we took even more videos because … surely Twitter is waiting to see what we found!

Tags: Frank Wilczek · funny · geeky · Metablogging · Wide wonderful world

Now, where was I?

September 23rd, 2012 · Comments Off on Now, where was I?

Memories: Photos of children and grandchildren by betsythedevine
Memories: Photos of children and grandchildren, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Lost in time, lost in space, lost in family matters? It seems strange to me that I found it much easier to keep this blog going when my life was complexified by way too much travel and squeezed by too many commitments to varied big projects.

Now I am hoping to have more time to be just plain myself, still fully a part of a wonderful family, but with more time, space, and brainspace to reinvent even more Betsys than I’ve already imagined.

Tags: Metablogging · My Back Pages · Wide wonderful world

Dave Winer FTW

August 26th, 2011 · Comments Off on Dave Winer FTW

Dave Winer playacting in front of huge snowpile by betsythedevine
Dave Winer playacting in front of huge snowpile, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Another reminder of why we read Dave Winer’s blog Scripting News: this spirit-lifting quote from a recent post Indirect business models FTW.

One of the really amazing things about New York City is the extent to which the city anticipated its own growth. It built elevated rail systems to neighborhoods that didn’t exist. A grid that went into the Bronx when the city barely made it to 14th St. A huge city park in the middle of nowhere. Tech guys have to think like that. So few do. Seriously.

Tags: geeky · Metablogging · Wide wonderful world

Blogging is recursive

May 20th, 2011 · Comments Off on Blogging is recursive

Blogging is recursive by betsythedevine
Blogging is recursive, a photo by betsythedevine on Flickr.

Waiting for a morning flight to Heathrow. Frank and I will celebrate his birthday this year by doing the Wainwright coast to coast walk across England.

I just blogged a big chunk of Wordsworth’s 1810 thoughts about just how great this time of year is for the Lake District. So now, I photographed my computer, my blog, my coat, my scarf, my favorite pink hoodie, and all the other crazy people in range in this waiting area.

Adventures and more photos follow, but not for a while.

Tags: coasttocoast · England · Frank Wilczek · Metablogging · Travel · Wide wonderful world

Adult fare on YouTube, for a change..

September 5th, 2009 · 1 Comment


Yes, an entire calculus limerick, resurrected from my 1992 joke book, has been made into a YouTube video by my old friend Stu Savory. (Calling him my “good old” friend would make him sound older and less good, so I’ll leave it there.)

The limerick is a fine old mathematical chestnut, most likely created by a real practitioner who invoked Gausswhen trying to tie his cravat and thought of Klein bottles when he heard the milkman’s cart rumble by. With blessings upon Stu’s head, I am not that old.

I hope all my readers will show their support for YouTube’s new adult content by favoriting Stu’s video early and often.

Tags: funny · geeky · Metablogging · Science · Wide wonderful world

See them through the trees?

August 11th, 2009 · 1 Comment




See them through the trees?

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

NH swimmers at sunset. I don’t remember now if this photo showed people headed down to the lake or about to come back up to sit on the porch. But maybe that’s part of what this photo really means.

Dave Winer, in the course of a blogpost called “Narrate your work.,” says:

Over the years I’ve seen ideas that show up over and over in various different forms, and when we discover one, we give it a name. Examples. Jay Rosen came up with Atomization. Doc Searls said Markets Are Conversations. David Weinberger has so many — including Small Pieces Loosely Joined and Transparency is the New Objectivity. Clay Shirky says Here Comes Everybody. Jay and I together came up with Rebooting The News. Some of mine are Sources Go Direct, River of News, We Make Shitty Software, Checkbox News, People Come Back to Places that Send Them Away, Ask Not What the Internet Can Do For You, The Platform with No Platform Vendor, It’s Even Worse Than It Appears.

I agree with Dave’s “Narrate your work,” and would just add to that — make time also to narrate your life, at least for yourself and maybe for a very few others.

Were these faintly-seen swimmers heading back up to the porch? Or down into the lake? What matters more is that I managed to photograph one lucid moment of pure summer pleasure. That memory will now be mine for the rest of my life.

Tags: Metablogging · Sister Age · Wide wonderful world

Things happen in layers, or our lives look simpler in RSS

July 22nd, 2009 · 1 Comment




Things happen in layers

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

How very complex are the surfaces that confront us, walking through real life. And yet how much simpler they seem if considered as a succession of layers, each layer with its own time stamp and simple description.

Consider this Krakow wall’s layers as a series of event reports in some kind of blog. Translating its RSS feed into English, a few entries follow:

Description: Surface layer of city grime

pubDate: multiple/ongoing
Description:Graffiti incident, Antoni & Malgorzata

pubDate: 1987
Description: Broken fragments of stucco re-expose brick wall

pubDate: 1974
Description: Deterioration of paint starts to re-expose stucco

pubDate: 1943
Description: Painted stucco layer on top of brick wall

pubDate: 1934

I’m thinking back on my own life as a series of layers — heartfelt events whose legacy remains even when others succeed them. What would your life’s RSS feed say about you?

Tags: Metablogging · Sister Age · Travel · Wide wonderful world

Reinventing what it means to be human

May 3rd, 2009 · Comments Off on Reinventing what it means to be human




Sky treehouse at sunrise

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Let’s be more ambitious than Freud: What do Humans want? I am putting together a college-level course on the ways that Utopia is being multiply re-imagined in digital worlds.

Second Life is well-known as a place that sets people free to imagine new faces, bodies, histories, and futures. But Wikipedia is also a second life to many of its participants. If Second Life has multiple sexual genders, including a wide range of Furry and Gorean and scientific data visualization options, Wikipedia too has “genders”; people who come there to work out different desires.

Wikipedian fulfillment may involve some very strange couplings (wrong word, since far more than two people often become involved), quite often accompanied by virtual cat-on-roof yowling. Consider, for example, the passionate encounter of article-writer with article-editor. Or of somebody who just loves enforcing the RULES with a prankster who loves to break those rules.

Agenda-pushers for any agenda X would get no satisfaction were there not advocates for agenda not-X also eager to engage in back-and-forth pushing.

Yes, I am (mostly) joking. But the part of my course on “Gratified desire” will consider material well beyond Second Life.

Tags: geeky · language · Metablogging · Reputation systems · Wide wonderful world · wikipedia

High tech, high Ada-Lovelace-quotient Lisa Williams

March 23rd, 2009 · Comments Off on High tech, high Ada-Lovelace-quotient Lisa Williams




These boots were made for Austin

Originally uploaded by betsythedevine

Ada Lovelace Day has arrived!

Picking just one “woman excelling in technology” is a bit hard, because there are quite a few whom I admire, e.g.

But I pick tech-trepreneur Lisa Williams aka blogger Lisa Williams, and not just because I have a photo of her wearing SXSW cowboy boots.

Lisa started with major computer-geeky creds and then built up and out, to test and evangelize (6 years at least worth of) new good stuff such as RSS and Bloggercon and podcasting. She has a good eye for what will be exciting, and she puts lots of skill and energy into making good things happen.

Lisa also writes about life in the geeky-young-mom lane, e.g. annotating her desk and giving advice to panelists e.g. “Bring one story to tell” but also “The best panelists are the sharpest listeners.”

More recently, she turned her tech skills to creating H20town, a hometown online newspaper. Being Lisa, she then branched out to find others like herself and built Placeblogger, mixing high-tech with low-tech can-do in equal proportions. Now she and Susan Mernit are teaming up, so who knows what the future holds for all of us?

In conclusion, I’m wishing a Happy Ada Lovelace Day to all of you high-tech high-flyers of every gender, but especially to Lisa Williams.

Tags: Boston · geeky · Metablogging · Wide wonderful world